Depression in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

Many adolescents and emerging adults suffer from depression although individuals tend to associate depression with middle or older adulthood. Adolescence is a time marked with rapid physical development (e.g., hormonal changes), and emerging adulthood is often characterized by increased autonomy and responsibility. These are also periods where many individuals critique themselves and explore their identity.  A variety of physical, cognitive, and social-emotional changes and experiences, such as the aforementioned, have been linked to depression in adolescents or emerging adults.

Depression is a common condition for every age, gender and race. However, it is often unrecognized, or it may not be diagnosed, especially during adolescence and emerging adulthood. According to Arya, R., Baroilhet, S., Fritsch, R., Montero-Marin, J., and Montgomery, A. (2013) approximately 20% to 33% of individuals that suffer from lifelong depressive issues said that their first episode of depression occurred before 21 years of age.

Despite its prevalence, many college students are often embarrassed to seek help for depression or anxiety. Some worry about the costs of treatment. However, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and as the numbers show, those who suffer from depression are not alone. Further, many students may be surprised to learn about the resources (for example, discounted rates on medication) that exist through many campus mental health facilities or pharmacies.

Are YOU suffering from depression? Occasional mood swings or lashing out may be a normal part of your development or life in general. However, depression can often interrupt daily functioning. Are you feeling, sad, anxious, or hopeless? Do you frequently drink to get drunk? Have you experienced a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, or have problems sleeping, focusing/concentrating, getting the energy you need to make it through the day? If so, you should seriously consider seeking help and advice from your family medical doctor or a mental health practitioner on campus. Also, if you believe one of your friends may be suffering from depression, you could consider reaching out to them. College students who suffer from depression are more likely to engage in risky behaviors associated with alcohol, fall behind in school, engage in self-harm, experience suicidal thoughts, or attempt suicide, each of which can lead to long-term consequences. As such, reaching out for help can change your life (or your friends’ lives) in a positive direction.

Editor: Mikki Sherwood


Araya, R., Barroilhet, S., Fritsch, R., Montero-Marin, J., and Montogomery, A. (2013). Detecting

depression among adolescents in Santiago, Chile. Sex Differences, 13. 122

NIMH – Depression in College Students

Psych Central – Depression and Anxiety Among College Students


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